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Mar27-08, 04:48 PM
P: 22,239
Quote Quote by NateTG View Post
Honestly, it's hard to imagine why anyone decided to put wings on a spacecraft in the first place.
To land on a runway and reuse more of the craft.
Parachutes are well-understood, reliable, smaller, and lighter.
But are at the mercy of the wind and require a water landing and recovery - and you can't just lift a 727-sized object out of the water and drop it onto an aircraft carrier with a helicopter.
I have no idea how important the wings are to the earlier aspect of the shuttle's reentry
Extremely, but they could be gotten rid of if the system were completely redesigned.
or what kind of cost equation goes to retrofitting the shuttle with a parachute system of some variety.
for the shuttle itself, it simply isn't possible. It would require a completely different vehicle.
As a bonus it puts almost no restrictions on the shape of the craft for that part of reentry.
Well, no, the restrictions are quite similar to the restrictions on earlier capsules. There is some complex aerodyanamics and thermodynamics at work there.